Lakers/Pistons: Motowned..

J.M. Poulard —  March 6, 2012

Box Score: Pistons 88, Lakers 85

Offensive Efficiency: Pistons 107.3, Lakers 103.7

True Shooting %: Pistons 46.0%, Lakers 50.2%

Coming off a big victory at home against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, the Lakers had a chance to build on their three-game winning streak by taking on the Detroit Pistons on the road. If only…

The Good

The Lakers twin towers looked dominant on this night as they ran amok on the Pistons frontline. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined to produce 50 points and 24 rebounds on 21-for-32 field goal shooting.

On several occasions, the Lakers dumped the ball into their big men and watched them operate on the block and eat up their defenders; but Mike Brown also exploited the Pistons rotating defense in the pick-and-roll to get the ball to the big men.

Indeed, the Lakers continuously kept running screen-and-roll action from both the middle of the floor and the sidelines with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, which resulted in Detroit sending their second big man towards the Spaniard to help out but also often left either Ben Gordon or Rodney Stuckey stuck rotating to Bynum underneath the basket where he kept outmuscling them for easy scores.

The Lakers did a good job of beating traps as well as double teams to set up high percentage shots for the perimeter players as well as the interior scorers, which obviously benefited Gasol and Bynum.

On the other side of the ball, with Rodney Stuckey doing most of the damage for the Pistons, the Lakers did a relatively decent job of trapping him to get the ball out of his hands late in the shot clock and then not allowing him to run back to the ball to create good scoring opportunities.

The Lakers defense forced the Pistons into some tough shots and limited them to 39.8 percent field goal shooting thanks to their eight blocks and their activity around the rim.

The Bad

The Lakers defense was exceptional in the first and third quarters, holding the Pistons to a combined 26 points. However, when Detroit went to their second unit early in the second and fourth quarters, the Pistons then played terrific defense and forced the Lakers to shoot perimeter jumpers and then got out in transition for some easy scores.

In a game where the victorious team scored 88 points, Detroit’s 19 fast break points loomed rather large in the contest. Stuckey and Gordon were able to get out in the open court and score right at the rim as a result of pushing the ball down the court while the Lakers big men were often caught retreating.

This explains how a Pistons team that struggled to score at the rim against a set defense still managed to produce 46 points in the paint on the night.

The Ugly

As terrific as the Lakers were on the interior, they were just as terrible from the perimeter. On the night, Los Angeles converted (and I use the term loosely) 3-of-22 shots from 3-point range, which obviously failed to complement the Lakers interior scoring.

Also, Kobe struggled from the field in Detroit, making 8-of-26 shots from the floor, primarily matched up against Tayshaun Prince and Damien Wilkins.

Going forward, it will be important for some of the perimeter players to step up and make a few shots to loosen up defenses that will otherwise pack the paint. On this night, the poor shooting not only cost the Lakers points, but it also allowed the Pistons to get back into the game thanks to their transition game.

The Play of the Game

Although the Lakers were defeated on the road tonight, Kobe Bryant still had the best play of the game late in the fourth quarter.

With the Lakers down two points and the clock ticking down, the Mamba squared up in the middle of the court, jab stepped, drove to his right and stopped at the right elbow and elevated for a beautiful jump shot over the outstretched arms of Tayshaun Prince that he seemed to know was good once it left his hands.

The ball went through the hoop and barely touched the rim as time expired and the red lights on the backboard lit up, signaling that he had just sent the game into overtime.

Kobe may have made the shot, but his reaction afterwards could have fooled many as he seemed all business-like and less than impressed with the events that had just transpired.

The execution was flawless and was a carbon copy of all his typical late game heroics; but it is always a thing of beauty to watch him operate in these situations, especially against single-coverage.

J.M. Poulard